Staff Editorial: Gay in the NBA

John Amaechi made headlines six years ago when he publicly announced he was gay. Jason Collins caused a similar reaction on Monday when he did the same thing.

These two athletes are the only National Basketball Association players to ever go public like this.

But a major difference precedes them.

Amaechi had been retired four years when he made his announcement. Collins is the first active professional athlete to come out.

Collins' disclosure, through a first-person Sports Illustrated story, was instantly met by a large number of current and former NBA players taking to social media outlets, offering words of support and admiration.

In addition to his athlete brethren, Collins received statements of support from many high profile individuals including NBA Commissioner David Stern, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and former President Bill Clinton.

Not all reception was positive, however.

Chris Broussard, a prominent sports analyst on ESPN, took to the airwaves denouncing Collins' sexuality and characterizing gays and lesbians as being "in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ."

It's unfortunate that we still live in a society where groups of people, particularly the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender community are still discriminated against.

Despite the numerous advances to make our society more tolerant and accepting, there are still people out there who want to deny individuals basic human rights such as loving and being able to marry whomever you choose.

Broussard's hate-filled rant is reminiscent of former NBA player Tim Hardaway's tirade in response to Amaechi back in 2007 when he famously stated, "I hate gay people."

The logic and arguments used by those promoting such bigotry bear resemblance to similar arguments made many years ago advocating racial segregation.

Hardaway, now a strong supporter of gay and lesbian rights, and having since apologized for his remarks about Amaechi, released a statement in support of Collins.

What an individual does in their personal life, and who they choose as a romantic partner, is nobody's business except for the people involved.

Instead of trying to tear him down, people should embrace Collins and salute him for taking such a courageous step in a field such as sports, which has long been homophobic and promoted masculinity and machismo.

Hopefully Collins' leap of faith will inspire other athletes from not only the NBA, but from all professional and amateur sports to be able to feel comfortable with their sexuality in their field.